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Sick joke: IPC should not be forced to conduct public hearings during coronavirus emergency

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ push for the Independent Planning Commission to proceed with public hearings during the covid-19 pandemic is an alarming move, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

The Alliance is deeply concerned about revelations Planning Minister Rob Stokes has instructed the IPC to continue with public hearings during the coronavirus crisis.

LTGA NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said people could not be expected to fully engage in the assessment process of major resource projects during a health crisis.

She called on the Berejiklian Government to suspend the IPC assessments of Narrabri and Vickery until the pandemic was over.

“It is deeply disturbing Planning Minister Rob Stokes expects the Independent Planning Commission to press ahead with a public hearing for controversial projects like the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine in the context of a global pandemic,” Ms Woods said.

“The covid-19 outbreak is upending the lives of people globally and New South Wales is no exception. People are frightened, and understandably so - the last thing many want to do is gather publicly, or miss out on their opportunity to have their say on these highly damaging projects.

“The Planning Minister cannot possibly expect the Commission can adequately or fairly undertake public consultation in this context.

“People in rural New South Wales have limited internet capacity and in towns and cities we are bracing for further disruption while we put all our efforts into limiting the spread of this virus. 

“The Planning Minister needs to put public health and basic fairness first and allow the IPC to suspend its consideration of the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine until the pandemic has passed and people are able to fully participate, as is our right.”

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